Heaven Taste

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A B-sides and rarities collection, Heaven Taste doesn't take in all the various odds and sods of No-Man's life from the early '90s, but it does make for a handy sampling of some of the best. Most notable of the inclusions is the title track itself, a 22-minute instrumental collaboration with the same Japan-minus-David Sylvian lineup that helped out on Sweetheart Raw. It's an easygoing piece, one that perhaps verges on being merely tasteful rather than being truly stunning at the start -- while Mick Karn's sax work is just fine, it also calls up the specter of smooth jazz in combination with the rhythm and keyboards. Of the remaining tracks, two feature early member Ben Coleman on violin, who also appears on "Heaven Taste" itself. While perhaps he simply couldn't or didn't want to make the journey to where No-Man went next, his contributions do lend a lovely edge to the recordings. "Long Day Fall" makes for a great way for the album to begin, starting with little more than Coleman's work before a rich combination of guitar and sequencers (and fretless bass, though not from Karn) comes in, suggesting Porcupine Tree a touch. Tim Bowness' singing, as ever, is the lovely icing on the cake. "Babyship Blue," meanwhile, having originally appeared on the Flowermix compilation, here gains vocals while otherwise still sounding as wonderful as ever. As for the remaining numbers, "Bleed," which surfaced on the "Sweetheart Raw" single, here gets a reworking with a slow, muffled funk beat, adding to the elegant mystery of the original and its central, fragile keyboard line. Part of "Say Baby Say Goodbye" appears at the end, though without credit on the sleeve. There's also another hint of No-Man's wide-ranging roots with a cover of Nick Drake's "Road," delivered in appropriately understated fashion.

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